One of the most well-known effects of cannabis is a feeling of overall well-being or happiness. Medical professionals and researchers refer to this effect as mood elevation, and know that it is caused by cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds in cannabis similar to those that the human body produces on its own when healthy. With certain conditions, such as anxiety, sleep, and mood disorders, the body may not produce these needed soothing agents. Medical marijuana can help replace these natural cannabinoids to relieve many of the symptoms common with depression, anxiety, sleep and mood disorders.
How Medical Marijuana Works for Anxiety, Sleep, Depression and Mood Disorders
It might seem strange that cannabis works across different anxiety, sleep, and mood disorders, since these conditions have many separate causes and symptoms that are not always related. One reason cannabis is effective is because it has 61 unique cannabinoids, each of which falls into one of eleven different groups that have different effects when used to treat conditions. This is why patients will see different strains of medical marijuana bred to have higher levels of specific cannabinoids. This specialization is based on years of deep scientific research.
- Therapies for major depression currently available have limited effectiveness, but research on cannabinoids shows that these compounds increase serotonin, an important mood controller, and even increases the generation of new brain cells (Endocannabinoids in the Treatment of Mood Disorders: Evidence from Animal Models, Rodriguez Bambico, F. et al.)
- Anxiety is a symptom of many psychiatric conditions, and recent research shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in modulating the feelings of fear that characterize anxiety. In particular, the CB1 receptor plays an important part, and can be activated to relieve feelings of anxiety with cannabinoids, either naturally produced or introduced into the body (such as with medical marijuana) (Modulation of Fear and Anxiety by the Endogenous Cannabinoid system, Chhatwal, J.P., and Ressler, K.J.)
- THC appears to be the primary cannabinoid contributing to feelings of sleepiness, while the cannabinoid CBD can cause feelings of wakefulness, suggesting that high-THC low-CBD strains of medical marijuana are best to overcome insomnia and sleeplessness (Effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults, Nicholson, A.N., et al.)
- Adult medical cannabis users report more feelings of depression, possibly brought on by the conditions contributing to their use of medical cannabis, but also report relief from symptoms of depression and more positive moods through using medical cannabis (Decreased depression in marijuana users, Denson, T.F., and Earleywine, M.)
Since the cannabinoids that relieve symptoms of anxiety, sleep, and mood disorders are present in virtually any form of medical marijuana, patients can find relief from their symptoms in a variety of ways, including:
- Inhaled medical marijuana, whether through commonly used marijuana cigarettes or specialized devices such as pipes and vaporizers
- In recipes as a food item or as an addition to drinks; this method works best in edibles that have a higher oil content, since cannabinoids are oil soluble
Anxiety, sleep, and mood disorders can be very disruptive to daily life, but so can many of the traditional treatments available for these conditions. Those suffering from these upsetting symptoms might be able to supplement treatment for their conditions with medical cannabis, and should discuss this option with a qualified medical marijuana doctor.
United Patients Group is dedicated to making sure patients can have access to medicine that helps reduce their pain and symptoms, listing dispensaries and medical marijuana resources to ease that process. Feel free to contact us with any questions or to share your story of how medical marijuana has helped you.